My Itchy Travel Feet | The Baby Boomer's Guide To Travel

Echo Canyon Loop After The Fire

2011/10/20by Donna Hull

arizona-chirichaua-national-monument

Looking out over Chiricahua National Monument

Echo Canyon Loop is one of our favorite hikes in Chiricahua National Monument. This trail in the southeastern corner of Arizona offers plenty of photo opportunities for Alan and just enough hiking to satisfy the active boomer in me. Plus it puts us in the scene rather than looking at it. From my report on visiting the pyramids in Cairo, you already know how I feel about that. Oh, and did I mention it’s an off-the-beaten-path Arizona experience?

Unfortunately, on May 8, 2011, the human-caused Horseshoe Two fire damaged much of the landscape. Bonita Drive is currently closed above the campground but hiking trails are open and accessible from the visitor’s center. Hikers are advised to watch their footing due to fire damage. The photo essay that you see here is our tribute to Echo Canyon Loop Trail and the former beauty of the Chiricahuas. May it return to us soon.

arizona-chiricahua-national-monument-trail

And the trail begins

From the visitors center, drive up Bonita Creek Drive to Masai Point for an inspiring view, then turn the car back downhill to Echo Canyon Loop Trailhead. Echo Canyon Loop Trail, a 3.3-mile-round-trip hike, winds through the Grottoes and Wallstreet. A park brochure suggests taking the two-hour hike counter-clockwise to avoid a hilly ascent back to your car. We highly recommend that option. Another choice is to catch the park shuttle (currently not operating due to fire damage on the road) to Echo Canyon Loop Trailhead and hike the 4.2 miles back down to the visitor’s center.

stone-soldiers-echo-canyon-loop

Stone soldiers marching down the hill

The Apache called the Chiricahuas the Land of the Standing Up Rocks. After all, it was their territory, they could call it anything they liked. To me the formations look like stone soldiers marching down a mountainside.

echo-canyon-loop-leaning-rock

Stone formations lean against one another

Along the trail, boomers will discover unusual rhyolite formations like these two stone columns leaning against each other. For now, the green trees are probably gone.

chiricahua-echo-canyon-loop-arizona

Echo Canyon Loop winds between the rocks

At some points, Echo Canyon Loop Trail travels between the rocks. On our visit, a forested green hillside populated with more stone formations was just around the corner. Today? We just don’t know.

echo-canyon-loop-rocks

They really do look like stone soldiers

These stone soldiers are standing guard, watching over a landscape that will someday come back to life. According to the Chiricahua National Monument website, “some areas are showing patches of green and natural sources of water still can be found.”

Alan and I are not likely to give up on the Chiricahuas. In fact, we hope to visit the “Wonderland of Rocks” later this year when we return to Arizona. If you have time, take a drive down to this part of the state. The bed and breakfasts, restaurants and local tour operators need your business. As the Arizona Daily Star reports, the Chiricahuas are greening up.

Have you visited an area after a devastating fire like this one? What did you see? What did you learn? Are you glad that you went? Post your comment to share your thoughts. Alan and I are listening.

New here? We hope you’ll come again. To keep up with us, subscribe to our posts, sign up for our monthly newsletter or keep up with baby boomer travel news and deals at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook.



A boomer travel and lifestyle authority who is exploring the world one activity at a time. Besides writing and publishing My Itchy Travel Feet, she also writes about boomer travel for My Well-Being Powered by Humana, Make It Missoula and is the author of New Mexico Backroads Weekend Adventure.

Previous post:

Next post:

About Us

We're Donna & Alan Hull. We KNOW boomer travel.

Since 2008, we've published articles and photographs focusing solely on boomer travel: where to go, what to do and how to do it.

Partner with us

Did you know that baby boomers purchase 80% of luxury vacations and adults aged 55 + account for one-third of all trips in the U.S.? We can help you to reach an audience of active boomer travelers.

Learn more:


Have questions? Get in touch.

The fine print:

Media Mentions

We're the undeniable experts on boomer travel.


Need a boomer expert for your publication? Get in touch.